Parents Who Force Kids To Apologize Before They’re Sorry May Do More Harm Than Good

If your kid does something bad to someone else it can be tempting to force them to apologize immediately, but a new study finds that’s not always the best course of action. University of Michigan researchers looked at how kids ages four through nine viewed three types of apology scenarios among peers: unprompted apologies, prompted but willingly given apologies, and coerced apologies. They found kids viewed willing apologies in about the same manner, whether they were prompted or unprompted. However, the coerced apologies weren’t seen as effective, especially by respondents ages seven through nine. That group thought the coerced apologizers’ bad feelings were rooted in self-interest, as opposed to true remorse. Study author Craig Smith says, “Make sure the child understands why the other person feels bad, and make sure the child is really ready to say ‘I’m sorry.’ Then have them apologize. Coercing your child to apologize is going to backfire. Other kids don’t view that apologizer as likable.”